Game 11 2017-18: Penguins at Oilers

The mood for tonight’s game and the rest of this week may depend on how you feel about the Edmonton Oilers. This blog has many readers who are all-in on this club, others who are still on the bandwagon but have scouted an escape route, those who have a laminated ‘the sins of Peter Chiarelli’ single sheet of foolscap (both sides), and those who believe Todd McLellan is running Leon Draisaitl with Connor McDavid out of spite. Red means run, son, and numbers add up to nothing.


  • Oilers in November 2015: 1-0-0, goal differential +2
  • Oilers in November 2016: 0-0-1, goal differential -1
  • Oilers in November 2017: 0-0-0, goal differential nil

Edmonton is far enough behind the pack for us to talk about missing the playoffs at this time. Another month like October, and we’ll be talking 2018 draft, offloading Patrick Maroon and who would be willing to waive their NMC clause at the deadline. This is a make or break month, something we didn’t see at all during the regular season one year ago.


  • At home to: Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Detroit (Expected: 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: NYI, New Jersey, NYR, Washington (Expected: 1-2-1) (Actual: 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Vegas, St. Louis (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual: 0-0-0)
  • On the road to: Dallas, St. Louis, Detroit, Buffalo, Boston (Expected 2-2-1) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • At home to: Arizona, Toronto (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
  • Overall expected result: 7-7-2, 16 points in 16 games 
  • Current results: 0-0-0

I have tonight as a loss, meaning the Oilers would go into the game against New Jersey at 3-7-1 for the season. If the club then loses to Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils, suspect I’ll be banning the whole damn bunch of you by noon Saturday. This week could melt the blog.


Todd McLellan looked at a lot of defensemen during training camp, auditioning several players late into the preseason.


  • September 21: Ethan Bear, Ben Betker
  • September 23: Caleb Jones, Keegan Lowe, Ryan Mantha
  • September 26: Dillon Simpson
  • October 1: Mark Fayne

Edmonton placed Andrej Sekera and Ryan Stanton on injured reserve and the final seven were set. Most of us felt Todd McLellan would deploy the defense in a specific order at even strength: Big minutes for the top pairing of Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson; prominent minutes for second pairing Kris Russell and Matt Benning; a third pairing of Darnell Nurse and Eric Gryba; seventh man Yohann Auvitu. Is that how it’s rolling out? Let’s have a look.


  • Oscar Klefbom—Adam Larsson have been playing big minutes again, about 18 per night at 5×5. There have been struggles for both men and it looks like we’ll see them line up with different partners this evening. Still, as expected, the Swedes are playing a lot.
  • Darnell Nurse—Eric Gryba appear to be going in opposite directions early in the year. Nurse has seen his time on ice increase on merit, in fact he’s been moving up the depth chart. Gryba has been playing a lot, but more than one minutes less per game than one year ago. The big question: Can Nurse handle this prominent role for the entire year?
  • Kris Russell—Matt Benning are both off quite a bit, Benning 49 seconds a game and Russell over three minutes. When you see that kind of dive (Russell), it’s reasonable to wonder about injury. In the Washington game, Russell played No. 5D minutes at evens, and only 27 seconds beyond his 5×5 time. Nurse is emerging, but Todd McLellan can also move Russell over to RH side and that’s the play here based on his previous usage. Either way, if Russell plays No. 5D minutes at evens tonight, we have a story: The big free-agent signing of summer is heading to the fringes of the roster.


  • Elliotte Friedman“I do think that Peter Chiarelli has a lot of balls in the air.” Source

If Edmonton can catch Matt Duchene, Chris Kreider or 1984 Mark Messier by trade route, then I’m absolutely interested. However, at this time of year trades are usually about moving a player who has cratered so badly (Devan Dubnyk for Matt Hendricks) the general manager is willing to make a 10-cents on the dollar deal. The numbers (we’ll look in a minute) suggest regression will be a friend, we do not know the hour or the day.


  • Patrick Maroon—Connor McDavid—Leon Draisaitl
  • Milan Lucic—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Kailer Yamamoto
  • Drake Caggiula—Ryan Strome—Anton Slepyshev
  • Iiro Pakarinen—Mark Letestu—Zack Kassian
  • Darnell Nurse—Adam Larsson
  • Oscar Klefbom—Matt Benning
  • Yohann Auvitu—Kris Russell
  • Cam Talbot (Laurent Brossoit)


  • Line shuffles can work well and I do like a few things from this group (via practice on Monday).
  • The No. 1 line is power v. power. In the away game versus Pittsburgh,  McDavid was 10-2 against Rust-Malkin-Kessel, 9-11 against Guentzel-Crosby-Sheary.
  • The No. 2 line was also active in Pittsburgh, trio (which included Ryan Strome) went 6-7 against the Malkin line and 5-3 against the Crosby trio. This was the night Nuge was sending gorgeous come hither passes to the wrong uniforms and Lucic firing one mile wide in overtime (which led to a jailbreak and gobble gobble death).
  • The new No. 3 line has some promise, with Ryan Strome returning to his best position. He has two wingers who badly need to score (haven’t scored in a game that counts since the playoffs) and at some point  one or both (it’s Slepyshev) will be entering the last chance Texaco.
  • The No. 4 line confirms Jussi Jokinen is deep undercover or in the doghouse. It’s the need for speed.
  • Adam Larsson wasn’t at practice yesterday, something to monitor.
  • Yohann Auvitu’s possession numbers have been good, not certain about the projected third pairing.
  • Cam Talbot can’t let in any soft goals. Edmonton’s playoff berth was gained partly due to his exceptional consistency one year ago.


  • Goals-for per game: 2.20 (No. 31)
  • Goals-against per game: 3.30 (No. 23)
  • Power-play percentage: 12.1 (No. 29)
  • Penalty-killing percentage: 70.3 (No. 30)
  • Shots per game: 37.7 (No. 2)
  • Shots against per game: 31.0 (No. 9)
  • Shooting percentage: 5.8 (No. 31)
  • Source
  • 5×5 Corsi for percentage: 57.04 (No. 1)
  • 5×5 Fenwick for percentage: 57.24 (No. 1)
  • 5×5 Shots-for percentage: 56.41 (No. 1)
  • 5×5 Goals-for percentage: 47.06 (No. 21)
  • Source

If these numbers were posted by an analytics darling, say the Carolina Hurricanes, I expect the verbal would be a lot about “can you believe the luck?” or “when this turns around all those good decisions are going to shine” on this blog and on other social media. However, due to the fact we are talking Edmonton Oilers, the headlines are running in a different direction. Why is this the case?


At 10 this morning, TSN1260. There’s too much to talk about! Fabulous lineup, scheduled to appear:

  • Darcy McLeod, Because Oilers. Why is Todd McLellan stubbornly clinging to Leon on RW? Also, five of Edmonton’s forwards have a 5×5/60 scoring number over 2.00. What kind of player should be the sixth?
  • Jeff Krushell, Krush Performance. What a World Series! It had to go seven!
  • Matt Cauz, Team nominees for awards today and who is the favorite to win the Grey Cup?
  • Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst. A quick check on the 2018 NHL entry draft.

10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.




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417 Responses to "Game 11 2017-18: Penguins at Oilers"

« Older Comments
  1. Lowetide says:

    Congrats to all the Astros fans on this blog. It’s strange to have so many, but I’m glad for you. That 1986 team earned one, maybe they can take some solace in seeing the club finally running up that hill.

  2. Lewis Grant says:

    frjohnk: These are the kinds of games the Oilers won last year.
    Not happening so far this year.

    Yeah, that’s exactly the problem. I don’t know exactly why it is, but I know that it is. And even if the underlying stats regress to the mean, it’s probably already too late to save the season.

  3. TheVengeFulOne says:

    It’s like we bought the finest shotgun, loaded it with bird shot, and set out to hunt bear. Now we sit around asking what went wrong. And this time it isn’t the goalie stupid.

  4. OmJo says:

    Its clearly time for Yamamoto to be re-assigned to Spokane for their games this weekend.

    Gotta think Puljijarvi is the call-up – from accounts he’s playing very well, all over the ice in the minors and scored a PP goal tonight.

    I’d like to slot him in with Connor (gifted) and put Drai on Nuge’s wing.Lets turn that small sample size with McDavid/Puljijarvi success in to a large sample size.

    Drai was recalled early in his draft plus 2 year and put with Hall – lets recall Jesse early in his draft plus 2 year and put him with McDavid – give him some offensive players to play with, not Josh Currie.

    Don’t see it happening.

    IIRC, wasn’t Draisaitl put on a line with Hall and Nuge back in 15-16, before Nuge got.inkured. Then Draisaitl was moved to 1C and Purcell was 1RW? They could have some chemistry if I’m not just imagining that happening.

  5. GMB3 says:

    OmJo: IIRC, wasn’t Draisaitl put on a line with Hall and Nuge back in 15-16, before Nuge got.inkured. Then Draisaitl was moved to 1C and Purcell was 1RW? They could have some chemistry if I’m not just imagining that happening.

    How I remember it as well

  6. stush18 says:

    Ice Sage: Love the attitude! – I think I’ll take your optimistic lead and not watch the games…

    I normally watch, just didn’t have the channel

    It’s just easier to notice the positives. Actually it’s easier to notice the negatives, but I think it’s prolly an exercise in personality on which you choose to notice and talk about.

  7. JimmyV1965 says:

    Just like Seinfeld I’m not sure if I love or hate the Drake. The guy is a ball of energy and he’s the most dynamic of the bottom six players. But you have to cash on those chances at some point. Argh.

  8. McSorley33 says:

    Hey, it’s early.

    Bad luck…..

    Crappy schedule….

    We’re facing great goaltending….

    1 5×5 goal……from the 3rd line, right?

    If you are RNH, you are buying Maroon a Rolex. Another filthy feed on the PP.

  9. GMB3 says:

    JP and gambardella with 3 shots each and 1 point in the bake. Those JP highlights the other night were something else. It’s good to see him responding to the challenge and dissapointment of being sent down with some elevated play. It appears he helps drive the offence on that first line.

  10. Undies says:


    You’re not joking about the goaltending. I’m starting to think opposing goalies are pulling out their best game of the year vs the Oil, lifting to heights beyond their usual capabilities knowing full well that they’ll come face to face with number 97. I’m not convinced Murray makes a couple of those saves again in a do over.

  11. OriginalPouzar says:

    Going to be a tough couple days in Oil Country.

    Looking forward to Friday night against Jersey.

    I think they are a fast young team to watch – accumulated quite a bit of talent over the last few years.

  12. Chelios is a Dinosaur says:

    If the Flames can go 5-10 and find their way into the playoffs I am confident this team *can* as well. Some technical fixes for sure need to happen yesterday though. I don’t think this is a Hindenburg yet but New Jersey is next up and the Oilers need to prove they can land something.

    And holy mother of god this is a lot of Eastern hockey. There will be points to make up in bunches if this team can figure it out over the next stretch, and they are right back in it. If not…

    I honestly don’t think anyone knows what that looks like for this organization.

  13. OriginalPouzar says:

    It’s going to be an epic run to the playoffs and to the third round from here.

    Go Oilers!

    Either that or we are going to get a nice pick and a good prospect to build our depth along with some nice assets for selling Maroon and Letestu.

    Some nice long term benefit there too.

    Go Oilers!

  14. SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo! says:


    Staples had a very good article up on the Cult of Hockey showing JP highlights from the weekend (complete with video clips).

    Seems like he’s finding the range with that lanky frame of his, learning out to protect the puck, worked a couple of nice give and goes etc.

    He also had a nice PP goal last night, nice read, got open and buried his chance.

    Seems to be running with a head full of confidence right now.

    Bahhh this is such a frustrating stretch because they are soooo close each and every night to winning.

    Still can’t get over the Nuge “even up” call, absolutely brutal but then so was the PK that followed.

    NJD is an interesting team. They might be running the ‘Senators” strategy, bend but don’t break.

    Their fancies are all over the map, beat at CC (8/11 games), FF (7/11 games), SF (9/11) and SCF (7/11) but consistently winning the HDCF (7/11) and HDGF (7/11).

    Schneider with a 37 save shutout last night, team got caved in every metric aside from HDGF where neither team had a goal and they have been trending down in every game during their current winning streak. (what did TMac say last year about winning some you shouldn’t at the end of a streak?)

    On Friday, I can foresee a game where the Oilers dominate for large swaths but every chance against ends up in the back of their net while Schneider does his best Vezina audition. Or I can see a game where the Oilers crack Schneider early and they put up 5.

    Hoping for the latter, preparing mentally for the former.

    Actually quite happy that they will be playing every two days for the next month and there’s an opening in this schedule where they play a bunch of teams who are struggling with consistency.

    Here’s hoping for a stretch of solid play.

    Go Oilers!

  15. OriginalPouzar says:

    JP and gambardella with 3 shots each and 1 point in the bake. Those JP highlights the other night were something else. It’s good to see him responding to the challenge and dissapointment of being sent down with some elevated play. It appears he helps drive the offence on that first line.

    Jesse’s goal last night – the winner on the PP. Got to the scoring area and buried and bang bang play in front:

  16. russ99 says:

    Congrats to all the Astros fans on this blog. It’s strange to have so many, but I’m glad for you. That 1986 team earned one, maybe they can take some solace in seeing the club finally running up that hill.

    Been a fan since 1978 and it’s an indescribable feeling when a team with such talent over decades that flamed out so spectacularly finally wins the first title in their history.

  17. DBO says:

    All about the defence. A strong D can make up for Average goaltending, can jump into the play, can move the puck tape to tape and increase offence. Sekera is missed so much, as he stabilized Russell, and allowed Nurse and Benning to be sheltered. Chia bet we could sustain with our stronger team game, but it hasn’t worked.

    Look back at all the failures the past years and our D was always suspect. He bet incorrectly on Russsell playing the Sekera role and never addressed the lack of balance and depth. Our forwards will be fine, everyone chill. Talbot has been solid since going on road. Our D is a tire fire. Poor D means poor PK, poor transition and therefore poor offence .

    Not sure on who is available, but need to get s better 2RD, stabilize the pairings and help the goalie and offence.

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